KCRW's Art Talk Support KCRW's public radio podcasts. Join online at KCRW.com or call 800-600-5279. Art reviews, news and announcements from Edward Goldman. Edward Goldman is an art consultant for private and corporate collectors. Email him at edwardgoldman@earthlink.net. Or call him at 310-314-4660 ext 280.
KCRW's Art Talk

KCRW's Art Talk

From KCRW

Support KCRW's public radio podcasts. Join online at KCRW.com or call 800-600-5279. Art reviews, news and announcements from Edward Goldman. Edward Goldman is an art consultant for private and corporate collectors. Email him at edwardgoldman@earthlink.net. Or call him at 310-314-4660 ext 280.

Most Recent Episodes

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

After 31 years of covering Art and Culture in Southern California, this is the last Art Talk that I am presenting on KCRW. It has been a privilege and an honor, my friends – and I mean that sincerely – to speak to you for three decades about the Arts in our City of Angels. Installation shots, Alex Israel at the Huntington. 2016. The Huntington. Photos by Edward Goldman. When I started my Art Talks, the LA art scene was so much smaller. Back then, after finishing each program, I would scratch my head wondering, "How the hell am I going to find something equally interesting and important to talk about next week?" Today, years later, with an art scene so vibrant, prominent, and vastly bigger, my weekly concern is, "How the hell am I going to choose what to talk about next week, with so many amazing cultural events happening right now?" Several years ago, I had a rather amusing conversation with a successful New York art dealer, who decided to close his gallery in Chelsea and move his business and family toLA. When I jokingly asked him, "Hey, have you lost your mind, leaving New York?" His response was, "Let me tell you, Edward – Today, Los Angeles has become a destination for art, just like New York was for Paris, after WWII." I was awestruck by his succinct and profound response. Of course, after WWII, so much of the European Avant-Garde started to move across the Atlantic to New York. In the last decade, we've seen a similar magnetic affect attracting famous artists and art businesses West, turning LA into a major global art destination. Exterior of The Broad museum. Photo by Edward Goldman. In the last few years, Los Angeles added to its cultural luster two ambitious private art museums: The Broad and The Marciano Art Foundation. And another major institution, the $1-billion Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, is scheduled to open next year in Exposition Park. Installation shots: James hd Brown: Life and Work in Mexico. 2017. USC Fisher Museum. Photos by Edward Goldman. Let's not forget that some of our Los Angeles cultural institutions have a long history. The Huntington Library and LA Philharmonic are celebrating their 100th year anniversaries, and the USC Fisher Museum of Art is marking its 80th anniversary. Being an art critic for KCRW gave me the pleasure and privilege to meet and interview world renowned figures of American culture, including Phillipe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Art Museum, who stunned me by reciting some Russian poetry – and doing it in Russian – the language he had studied in college. Screen shot from Philippe de Montebello: Tempus fugit, ars brevis on Youtube And God knows how I survived interviewing Richard Avedon. I told him how much I admired his work and described one photograph of his that I particularly loved. He paused, and then said, "Edward, you're giving me a compliment that I don't deserve. I wish it was my photograph, but actually it's by Irving Penn." Ouch. When I heard that, I wanted to die. But Richard, in spite of my faux pas, continued to be gracious and charming throughout the rest of the interview. Installation shot: Avedon: Women at Gagosian Beverly Hills. Photo by Edward Goldman. My friends, I've been talking to you about the Los Angeles art scene for 31 years. There are so many wonderful memories, and more to come... In this final program, I want to tell you how grateful I am to you for listening to my Russian-English all these years. I'd love to keep hearing from you. You can keep in touch with me through my email: edward@edwardgoldman.com and follow me on social media, to stay up to date with all the latest art happenings in LA. So, let me end with a famous Latin saying, "Ars Longa, Vita Brevis," which reminds us that life is short, but art is forever... Installation shot: Yayoi Kusama. With All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray, 2011. Marciano Art Foundation. Photo by Edward Goldman.

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The Provocative and Explicit Art of Sarah Lucas

OK, my friends. The subject of today's Art Talk is the provocative and explicit art of British artist Sarah Lucas, currently on display at Hammer Museum. The tongue-in- cheek title of the exhibition, Au Naturel, is a French phrase meaning "in the nude." And nudity – plenty of nudity – fills the many museum galleries in the form of sculptures, photographs, videos, and installations. L & R: Installation shots: Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel. Hammer Museum. Photos by Edward Goldman. Born in 1962, Sarah Lucas received recognition as a member of the Young British Artists (YBA), a group of artists who gained notoriety in the 1980s for breaking norms of propriety. Now, three decades later, Sarah Lucas has distinguished herself as one of the most influential British artists. In numerous photographic portraits of the artist, we see her exuding self-confidence and plenty of attitude. Yes, she is a badass. The cigarette sticking out her mouth in one photo echoes other cigarettes sticking out of orifices in plaster sculptures of a woman's body from the waist down. Installation shot: Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel. Hammer Museum. Photo by Edward Goldman I know her work is a little bit shocking, but the artist presents these plaster female naked bodies with a touch of absurdity, humor, and critique: leaning over tables or sitting on top of desks with legs spread. It's up to us to make sense of what's going on. Behind one of her naked plaster sculptures is the remnants of a performance during which women threw 1000 eggs against a wall, alluding to women's rights to control their own bodies. Installation shot: Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel. Hammer Museum. Photo by Edward Goldman. For thousands of years, the female body and sexual desire were the object of the male gaze in art – but, Sarah Lucas presents the female body with a sense of parody and drama. Don't feel guilty if you giggle a little bit, looking at her "Bunny" sculptures made from stuffed nylon stockings. These life-size anthropomorphic forms are congregated around and on top of a billiard table, a site usually a gathering place for men. Installation shot: Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel. Hammer Museum. Center: Eros, 2013. Cast concrete, crushed car. Right: Hoolian, 2013. Cast bronze. Photo by Edward Goldman. And now, with reluctance, let me try to describe the most provocative presentation of male sexuality and aggression in the show, a sculpture titled Eros. A gigantic white concrete sculpture of a phallus sits atop a crushed car, and the phallus is aimed at a wall- sized photograph of a woman with a raw whole chicken on top of her underwear, suggesting a vaginal opening. The only other female artist I can think of who so fearlessly dealt with such subject matter was Louise Bourgeois. These ladies and their art have balls... Installation shot: Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel. Hammer Museum. Foreground: Eros, 2013. Cast concrete, crushed car. Background: Christ You Know It Ain't Easy, 2003. Fiberglass, cigarettes. Photo by Edward Goldman. Sorry, my friends, but there is no way for me to talk about the life-size sculpture of a crucified Jesus covered with hundreds of cigarettes without again talking about the phallic Eros sculpture in front of it. Without exception, images of the crucifixion present Jesus with cloth modestly draped over his waist. But this installation that juxtaposes "cigarette Christ" and a massive phallus makes you think that church and religion are not perfect, but like us human beings, are full of imperfection. Sarah Lucas. Christ You Know It Ain't Easy, 2003. Fiberglass, cigarettes. Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel. Hammer Museum. Photo by Edward Goldman. This must-see exhibition runs through September 1 – and, make sure you go to see it without your in-laws or children by your side.

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Art and Empire in San Diego

Walking into Art & Empire: The Golden Age of Spain at the San Diego Museum of Art, a map on the wall reveals the geography behind the world's most far -reaching empire from the 17th to 18th centuries. Red arrows describe the extensive trade routes from the Iberian Peninsula to New Spain, from much of what is now Southern California to the tip of South America, as well as the Caribbean, Philippines and parts of Italy and Belgium. The enormous wealth that resulted enabled unprecedented patronage by the church and monarchy, bringing masterpieces of Italian and Flemish art to Spain in the 1500s evident in paintings here by Peter Paul Rubens. This impacted artists of the Iberian peninsula and the show includes paintings by Velázquez, Zurbarán and El Greco. Juan Sánchez Cotán (Spain, 1560–1627)Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber, ca. 1602. Oil on canvas, 27 1/8 x 33 1/4 in. (69 x 84.5 cm) The San Diego Museum of Art, Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam, 1945 The point, however, is that the influences spread widely with Spanish artists emigrating to the colonies to live, teach and produce art for the emerging wealthy classes. Those artists as well as craftsmen and jewelers were in turn influenced by their time spent in the existing cultures of these many regions along with with trade with China and the Ottoman Empire. Organized by the museum's curator Dr. Michael Brown, with more than 100 works in this show, the entire idea of a national art is overturned in favor of a global perspective. At the outset, there are surprises including delightful Portrait of a Spanish Prince (1573) by the Milanese Sofonisba Anguissola, the most famouse woman artist of her time who came to Spain as tutor of Isabel of Valois, wife of the king. If her name is not familiar, there are two adjacent portraits of King Philip IV, the great Spanish patron, by Diego Velázquez, one from 1623, at the outset of his reign, the other decades later, showing the effects of struggle and age. Both artists were courtiers with diplomatic duties and portraits painted by them and others were used to establish legitimacy and legacy through the two dozen realms controlled by Spain. This extended to the most elevated figures of the Catholic church. Miguel Cabrera (Mexico, 1695–1768) Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, 1750. Oil on canvas, 77 1/2 x 57 1/2 in. (196.8 x 146 cm) Museo Nacional de Historia, INAH, Mexico City, Mexico One of the most remarkable is a portrait of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1750) by the Mexican artist Miguel Cabrera. She sits at a desk in a library symbolic of her status as one of the great intellects and poets in Spain. Cabrera also painted the 1759 Virgin of Guadalupe with Apparitions, the story of Mary's appearance to the peasant Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoazin, an image that remains potent to this day. Cabrera melded the gilding and lapidary colors of High Renaissance art to this story of humility and grace. Miguel Cabrera (Mexican, 1695-1768), Virgin of Guadalupe with Apparitions, 1759. Oil and tempera on canvas, 72 13/16 x 40 9/16 in. Pérez Simón Collection Following the Council of Trent in 1563, the church established guidelines for carrying the message to the people regardless of education or position. Spain became the leading force in the Counter Reformation, the response to the Protestant Reformation. Saints and archangels and narratives of good and evil abound in painting and polychromed, gilded wood carvings. Devotion emerges in much of the art and a chapel-like gallery has been built for a number of those paintings where the atmosphere is enhanced by a soft recording of Lux Eterna, sacred music written in 1997 by contemporary Morton Lauridsen. Francisco de Zurbarán (Spain, 1598–1664)Saint Francis in Meditation, 1635–39. Oil on canvas, 59 7/8 x 39 in. (152 x 99 cm) National Gallery, London, Bought, 1853 Even still life painting is freighted with spiritual symbolism including the pellucid realism of Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán, with a heartbreaking Agnes Dei (1635-1640), the lamb of God lying with feet bound, ready for slaughter, but endowed with a silvery halo above its curly head. It's hard to imagine a better location for this show, either. The San Diego Museum of Art was built for the 1915 Panama- California Exposition, which was one of the first to applaud Spanish culture, and the building has five of the artists built into its facade — Velázquez, Zurbarán, Murillo, Ribera and El Greco. But this is the first time they have all been included in an exhibition there. It is worth the trip. The show continues through Sep 2.

Two Exhibitions Mixing Art, Music, and Politics

The photographic exhibition at the Getty Museum, Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story, will break your heart, make you think and hope, and even smile a little. In the early 1960s, Gordon Parks was already a well-known photographer. So, it was no surprise that he was chosen by LIFE magazine to go to Brazil to report about the extreme poverty in Rio de Janeiro. It was pure serendipity that Parks connected with a 12-year-old boy there, Flávio da Silva, and his family, living in the unimaginable poverty of a Brazilian favela. Installation shots: Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story. Getty Museum. Photos by Edward Goldman. This encounter dramatically changed the life of the boy and made a strong impact on Gordon Parks, as well. And, when the photographs of the malnourished boy suffering from asthma were published in LIFE magazine in 1961, it created an unprecedented sympathetic response from the American public. Installation shot: Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story. Getty Museum. Photos by Edward Goldman. Readers sent the magazine more than $26,000 in donations for the da Silva family, which is the equivalent of about one-quarter of a million dollars today. Parks returned to Brazil and witnessed a big change in the life of the boy. The donations collected by LIFE provided a modest home for the da Silva family. L: Installation shot: Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story. Getty Museum. R: Gordon Parks. Untitled (Flávio da Silva). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 1976. Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story. Getty Museum. Photos by Edward Goldman. More importantly, Parks was able to bring Flávio to the United States, to Denver, to treat his illnesses. Their relationship turned into a friendship that continued over the next four decades, until Parks' death in 2006. This exhibition, installed to a particularly dramatic effect, tells this story, worthy of a Hollywood movie. Henri Ballot. L: Child Crying at the Window. Manhattan, NY. 1961. R: Neighborhood of the Gonzalez Family. Manhattan, NY. 1961. Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story. Getty Museum. Photos by Edward Goldman. Brazilians were so shocked and upset by what they considered a one-sided, negative representation of Brazilian life that they staged a political and cultural coup, sending a Brazilian photographer to New York City to document the poverty and anguish in the US. These photos are highlighted in the Getty's exhibition. Believe it or not, some Brazilians accused Gordon Parks of staging his photographs. In response to that accusation, American press claimed that Brazilian magazine O Cruzeiro manipulated their images of New York's poverty, as well. Hmm... It turns out the "fake news" debate is not a new phenomenon at all... Installation shot: Terry Allen: The Exact Moment It Happens in the West. LA Louver. Photo by Edward Goldman. The Terry Allen exhibition at LA Louver gallery is another example of multifaceted storytelling. I don't know about you, but until I saw this exhibition, I only knew of Terry Allen as a musician. But, it turns out that he is also a well-known playwright and an exceptional visual artist. This exhibition covers his creative career from the 60s to present, and includes nearly 100 drawings, plus sculptures, video installations, and audio from his various albums. Installation shot: Terry Allen: The Exact Moment It Happens in the West. LA Louver. Photo by Edward Goldman. I was taken by the humor and edginess of his earlier, cartoon inspired drawings. But, looking at his recent works made 50 years later, I saw a level of sophistication and maturity that can only come from a life of learning. This exhibition made me wonder why Gods and Muses, on rare occasions, give so much talent to one person... be sure to see this exhibition more than once to learn about his art, his music, and his writing.

These Dance Performances Were Music To My Eyes and Ears

The last two weekends, I enjoyed four nights of amazing dance performances – two times on stage, at The Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and two times on the silver screen, at Laemmle's Royal theatre. Screenshot from The Royal Ballet - Mayerling | Three Performances at The Music Center. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=13&v=wbw4JFuIl1c After 24 years, The Royal Ballet returned to Los Angeles to perform its signature work, Mayerling, created by famous choreographer Kenneth MacMillan in 1978. Set in 19 th century Vienna, it tells the story of royal dangerous liaisons with the death of an Austro- Hungarian Prince and his teenage mistress. Sumptuous set design. Gorgeous costumes. Amazing dancers. All this impressed me, but, to be completely honest, it didn't emotionally engage me as much as I had hoped it would. As a pure coincidence, two days later, I went to see another performance by The Royal Ballet, this time, Romeo and Juliet, set to Prokofiev's iconic score, with original choreography by MacMillan from 1965. It was filmed during a live performance at The Royal Opera House and presented by Laemmle theatre here in LA. This time, I was completely and fully engaged by the dancers who told the heartbreaking story by Shakespeare, fortified by Prokofiev's music. Another two days passed, and I found myself back at Laemmle Royal – this time, to watch a filmed performance of Swan Lake, with choreography by Matthew Bourne, in which all the swans are male dancers. Talk about a challenging and eyebrow-raising interpretation of a classical ballet... I give it a high-five. Outlier from Adés and McGregor: A Dance Collaboration. Company Wayne McGregor. The Music Center. Photo by Ravi Deepres. Courtesy The Music Center. Last Saturday, I was back at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, for another evening of dance performances – this time, a collaboration between The Royal Ballet and Company Wayne McGregor. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the direction of composer and conductor Thomas Adés, returned to Dorothy Chandler for the first time since the orchestra moved to Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003. Outlier from Adés and McGregor: A Dance Collaboration. Company Wayne McGregor. The Music Center. Photo by Andrew Lang. Courtesy The Music Center. Watching the dancers perform impossibly difficult movements with unbelievable lightness, one could have thought that Gods and Muses gave them an extra vertebra. It was an extremely sensual and seductive presentation. Living Archive: An AI Performance Experiment from Adés and McGregor: A Dance Collaboration. World Premiere featuring dancers from Company Wayne McGregor. Top: Jacob O' Connell and Chien-Shun Liao. Bottom: Rebecca Bassett-Graham and Izzac Carroll. Photos by Cheryl Mann. Courtesy The Music Center. The most intriguing part of the program that evening for me was Living Archive: An AI Performance Experiment, which included a video installation by Ben Cullen Williams. Who knows? This artificial intelligence tool developed in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture Lab might have been an opening into the future of ballet theatre. The Dante Project (Inferno) from Adés and McGregor: A Dance Collaboration. World Premiere featuring dancers from The Royal Ballet. Edward Watson and artists of The Royal Ballet. Photo by Cheryl Mann. Courtesy The Music Center. The most anticipated program of the evening was the dance world premiere of The Dante Project Part 1 (Inferno), with set and costume design by famous British artist Tacita Dean. Dark, moody, and spectacular... that's how it felt to me. Dante Project (Inferno) from Adés and McGregor: A Dance Collaboration. World Premiere featuring dancers from The Royal Ballet. Matthew Ball and Francesca Hayward. Photo by Cheryl Mann. Courtesy The Music Center. Here we are with Virgil and Dante, traveling through the netherworld – but, the music score of Inferno by Adés with the choreography of McGregor made me feel like I was in paradise. With all these dance performances over the last ten days, I was as visually informed, engaged, and challenged as I would expect to be visiting art galleries and museums. It was music to my eyes, and ears.

Disappearing—California c. 1970

We tend to think of artists as people with sorts of egos that make them want to stay in the spotlight, to get attention. An exhibition of three important L.A. artists focuses, instead, on their various of methods of making themselves disappear. Aptly titled, Disappearing—California c. 1970 at the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, this show is the first to look in detail at the conceptually-based art of Chris Burden, Jack Goldstein and Bas Jan Ader. All of the artists are considered major figures in the art of their time and though they all lived in L.A. when it was a hot-house of great talents, they weren't particularly close friends. In a way, that makes their sui generis obsessions more fascinating and undeniably connected to who they were as people. Most of the art is based in an action, as opposed to performance, though all of them made certain that it was photographed, filmed or video-taped. In short, they knew they were making art and expected it to have a life beyond the action itself. This was part of a larger movement of performance-based art in the 1970s and what was called the "de-materialization of art," a way to move away from the production line of saleable paintings and sculptures. Made in the shadow of the Summer of Love, in the waning years of the Vietnam War, the show has something of a somber tone. Chris Burden. White Light/White Heat, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, February 8-March 1, 1975, 1975. The best known of the three is the American artist Chris Burden, who had spent much time on the East Coast and in Europe before attending Pomona College and then U.C. Irvine, both of which were crucibles of permissivity for new art. His now notorious graduate piece was hiding in a school locker for five days and nights with nothing but water and bottle for his urine. People could talk to him while he was in the locker but he could not be seen or heard. He had hidden himself away at the very time that most art students were preparing to make themselves known. That daring piece ultimately contributed to making him one of the best known artists and the exhibition includes photographs of later manifestations of his extreme art. This includes the time that his art White Heat, White Light, (1975) consisted of the apparently empty Ronald Feldman gallery in New York where he lay on a white shelf near the ceiling where no one could see or hear him for weeks. His presence, felt by them or not, was the show. Jack Goldstein, The Jump, 1978 (film still). 16 mm film, color, silent projection, and two black light tubes; 26 seconds. Estate of Jack Goldstein. © The Estate of Jack Goldstein Canadian Jack Goldstein was a charismatic figure in the early years of Cal Arts gaining attention for his 1972 Burial Piece, where he had himself interred in a coffin with breathing holes while teachers and students observed. Other art had a more marked connection to popular culture, especially his short movies. One gallery features a number of projectors running his simple black and white films notably one in which the artist runs around his darkened studio attempting to evade a big spot light, disappearing from unwanted attention. Bas Jan Ader, Please Don't Leave Me, 1969 Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader was either the most reckless or the most committed to his art. His is the first work in the show, a 1969 wall text that says "Please Don't Leave Me," with a string of electric lights tumbling over it. Black and white films of his stunts can seem both slapstick and dangerous, like rolling off the roof of his house or riding his bicycle along a Dutch canal and tumbling into the water. In some ways, his work is the most moving since it includes evidence of what he called "The search for the miraculous." Photographs document him with his wife, Mary Sue Anderson Ader, preparing for his solo 1975 voyage across the Atlantic from Chatham, Massachusetts to England in a used sailboat. His body was never recovered and the boat was discovered a year later off the coast of Ireland. He just...disappeared. Bas Jan Ader, Fall 1, Los Angeles, 1970. Black-and-white 16 mm film, silent; 24 seconds. Edition of 3. © The Estate of Bas Jan Ader / Mary Sue Ader Andersen, 2019 / The Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles Was Ader naive? Did he have a death wish? He was the most extreme but all of the artists were exploring the effects of extreme actions on themselves first and foremost. All the documentation and relics can make the actions seem like theater or magic. Burden has long claimed that his most extreme act, of having himself shot, was a misfire. He wanted to know the fear of being shot at, not the pain of being hit. Perhaps Ader wanted to know the feeling of being lost at sea, the feeling of praying for and receiving a miracle. But his project, too, went tragically off course. Goldstein wound up being a super star in the New York art scene for his 1980s paintings of nocturnal cities illuminated by exploding bombs of white light. Yet, he died an impoverished addict in 2003. His saga was compellingly told in Richard Hertz's book Jack Goldstein and the CalArts Mafia. Burden produced the most work including the always pleasing grove of vintage street lamps in front of LACMA. He died of cancer at his home in Topanga just four years ago. This show connects his early extreme actions to his lifelong curiosity about the extreme effects of change in industrialization or military research, topics on which he had informed and off-beat opinions. Organized by Philipp Kaiser, the exhibition captures a time when disappearance was an edgy new concept. It also serves as an elegy for three extraordinary artists who live on through their art. It is on view in Fort Worth through August 11. If you can't make it to Texas, a show of work by Ader, Water's Edge, is at Meliksetian Briggs gallery in the mid- Wilshire area through July 27.

Terry Allen at L.A. Louver

If you had come from Lubbock, Texas to Los Angeles in 1962, as did artist Terry Allen, you'd come to believe that anything was possible. You could be an artist, or a songwriter or a musician. Allen became all of the above. You can see it all in a survey of his art at a galllery in Venice. The Exact Moment it Happens in the West: Stories, Pictures and Songs from the 1960s to Now. Most of the drawings on view have not been shown before and they clarify the purpose of his serpentine art with its various detours and road blocks. Allen, now 76, calls Lubbock a place "so flat that if you look in any direction really hard on a clear day you can see the back of your own head." Son of a major league baseball player and a piano player, he married his high school sweetheart Jo Harvey and drove west. Like so many of the major artists to emerge in L.A. in the 1960s, he studied at Chouinard Art Institute, now Cal Arts. From the outset, his art had an animated, even goofy aspect that belied its biting content. He was encouraged by slightly older artists like Ed Ruscha and Billy Al Bengston who had similar Western backgrounds and who had attended Chouinard, as well. Allen was already writing songs and he performed his own country-style Redbird on a 1965 episode of the TV show Shindig. His solution was to consider his songs and his visual art parallel but equally considered pursuits. The Cowboy's Dreams of Home Turn to Chili-Up-The-Desert, 1969. mixed media on paper. 38 1/4 x 31 1/4 x 1 3/8 in. (97.2 x 79.4 x 3.5 cm). © Terry Allen. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA. For his 1968 series Cowboy and the Stranger, he attached a packaged reel to reel recording of a song to the back of each framed drawing. He called them "paper listening movies." Distorted and comical illustrations of scenes from the West tend towards the erotic and psychedelic, styles at large in the popular culture of that time. His music is country western but twisted to its own ends. In this show, posted next to each section of drawings, is a pair of headphones so you can listen to a song pertinent to that body of work. By then, his wife Jo Harvey Allen was a part of the dynamic, performing works with him or on her own. They had their own radio show on KPPC, a broadcast that took place in the basement of the Pasadena Presbiterian Church, where she was the first female country and western dj. Most of Allen's art has a narrative underpinning: tales of love, loss, violence and just plain weirdness. For example, an installation of a video monitor shows Jo Harvey's first performance as part of a wrestling match inspired by Terry's father who promoted small time wrestling gigs, along with running a nightclub where he booked rock acts traveling through Lubbock. (When I ran into Terry at the gallery yesterday, he told me that his father was such good friends with the flamboyant wrestler Gorgeous George that every Thanksiving, the famous blond would send him a turkey stuffed with a packet of gold- plated bobby pins from his ranch north of San Bernadino.) The point is that Allen's appreciation for the off beat is genuine. It is not a speculation about some lost part of American culture. It is the culture he got to live. Allen's 1975 concept record Juarez is a complex narrative about two couples and a border town told in songs and in drawings. Stat Eline (Juarez), 1971. mixed media on paper and plexiglass. 30 1/4 x 40 1/2 in. (76.8 x 102.9 cm). © Terry Allen. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA. Juarez is a piece very much of our times but Allen's politics are always rooted in the personal. Missing Footsteps , 1988. mixed media. 22 1/2 x 23 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (57.2 x 59.7 x 14 cm). © Terry Allen. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA. The Vietnam War affected so many of his family and friends that he spent a decade on the project Youth in Asia, which not only sounds like the word euthansia but encompasses the death toll on Allen's generation. He wrote his texts in type fonts on sheets of lead, a material but malleable and deadly. Some of the drawings have objects and talismans attached to them, smaller versions of the installations that he was evolving. Theater had been an influence since Terry and Jo Harvey saw the experimental Living Theater perform Frankenstein in the 1960s. The writings of Antonin Artaud not only affected their thinking about theater's potential, it inspired Allen's major installation, Ghost Ship (2010), which is not in the Venice location but can be seen by appointment at L.A. Louver's warehouse location on Jefferson Blvd. Ancient ("Dugout" Stage 1) , 2000-01. mixed media assemblage. 97 x 96 x 78 1/4 in. (246.4 x 243.8 x 198.8 cm). © Terry Allen. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA. Incomprehensibly, there has never been a museum retrospective devoted to the work of Terry Allen. While this show is not a substitute, it is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the alternative universe of his thinking and creating. Allen has had a long career recording and playing music with his Panhandle Mystery Band with his son Bukka Allen and they will be playing at Zebulon on July 18 and 19. Also, Terry and Jo Harvey Allen will be interviewed by Aram Moshayedi at the Hammer on August 7. On another note, some galleries are starting to observe summer hours. L.A. Louver, a block from Venice Beach, is not open on Saturdays but otherwise, Tuesday to Friday. The show is continues through September 28.

These People and Animals Compete For Our Attention

It's been almost 50 years since John Baldessari (b. 1931), one of the most famous American artists, printed a lithograph with a written statement, "I will not make any more boring art". And, boy, has he kept that promise all these years... the current exhibition of his prints at Laguna Art Museum is perfect proof that Baldessari has always been able to grab our attention. Installation shot: I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art: Prints by John Baldessari. Laguna Art Museum. Photo by Edward Goldman. His best-known works are based on photographs – some of them appropriated, some made by the artist himself. The faces of people in his prints are hidden by color blocks. We see these people engaged in activities and social interactions, but their personal identities and emotions are masked. Many of his compositions have a sense of humor, and a touch of criticism. This exhibition presents over 70 prints from the private collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, which holds an impression of almost every print Baldessari has made to date. Installation shots: Sculptures by Gwynn Murrill. Laguna Art Museum. Photos by Edward Goldman. Another solo exhibition at Laguna Art Museum presents work by Los Angeles artist Gwynn Murrill (b. 1942), who is well-known for her sculptures of animals in bronze, wood, and marble. And while Baldessari hides the personality of his characters, Murrill gives each animal their own unique personality. Installation shots: Sculptures by Gwynn Murrill. Laguna Art Museum. Photos by Edward Goldman. Every time I look at Gwynn Murrill's animals, I am tempted to touch them, not only with my eyes, but my hands as well, to experience the sensuality of their smooth, polished surfaces. Eric Fischl. The Exchange, 2018. Oil on linen. Image courtesy Sprüth Magers. The exhibition by Eric Fischl (b. 1948) at Sprüth Magers gallery is his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles in 25 years. In the 1970s, Fischl studied at CalArts. And, one of his professors was John Baldessari. It was a time when focus within the school was on conceptual art. In spite of that, Fischl, without any formal training as a painter, started to experiment with abstract painting. At the opening of the exhibition, Eric Fischl talked about how much he disliked his early abstract paintings, which he eventually stopped making. After I heard his talk, I checked out his website for these images, and I immediately realized why he stopped making these abstract paintings. While Baldessari, his teacher, promised not to make more boring art, Fischl, his student, decided to stop making bad paintings. It was a good decision. Eric Fischl. On the Beach, 2019. Oil on linen. Image courtesy Sprüth Magers. As a result, Fischl started to make figurative paintings, often using his own photographs to inspire their compositions. Fischl shows his characters engaged with each other, but not necessarily with us. Clearly, these people, some of them nude, are not aware they are being watched. Their personalities are not his focus. Instead, we observe them moving past blue oceans, pools, and skies in somewhat awkward, often unflattering positions. But, what makes these new paintings particularly appealing to me is his dramatic, open, and wild brushwork. And, even though Fischl abandoned abstract painting decades ago, it has reappeared in a much more sophisticated and subtle way in his new work. There aren't too many artists who, in the 8th decade of their life, produce the best works of their career.

All about Dilexi Gallery, 1958-1969

When talking about the L.A art scene in the 1960s, the name of the Ferus Gallery is foremost. Founded in 1957 by Walter Hopps with artist Ed Kienholz, it was a free-wheeling operation initially showing artists from the Bay Area alongside the L.A. set. But Ferus was not the first gallery started by Hopps. That would have been Syndell, opened in 1954 in West L.A. with his friend Jim Newman. They had become friends a few years earlier while students at Stanford where they spent as much time organizing jazz concerts as studying. After his first year, Hopps returned to his native L.A. to attend UCLA, Newman went on to Oberlin College. They remained friends. Neither expected to become a conventional art dealer but opened Syndell with the idea of supporting the artists they knew who were challenging ideas about making art in the 1950s, especially in abstract sculpture or assemblage. After his experience at Syndell, Newman and Beat poet Bob Alexander started Dilexi in San Francisco in 1955. At that time, the city was considered the apex of culture with a museum dedicated to modern art as well as a growing counter culture. Though Hopps had left Ferus to become curator and director of the Pasadena Art Museum, many of the Ferus artists continued to show at Dilexi in San Francisco. Newman opened a short- lived L.A. venue down the street from Ferus in 1963 with the Rolf Nelson as director. Newman, who parted from Alexander after the first year, remained closer to artists who lived and worked in the Bay Area. This summer, the fascinating but rarely studied history of Dilexi Gallery (1958-1969) is the focus of a group of shows in four galleries in L.A. and two in San Francisco. Some of the artists are well-known, others deserve to be. Co- organized by Laura Whitcomb, an independent curator, a catalog is forthcoming. The largest portion of the exhibition opens this Saturday, June 22, at The Landing, a large warehouse of a space on Jefferson Blvd.. Titled Disparate Ontologies, the exhibition includes a wide-ranging group of works by more than two dozen artists that conveys the taste for experimentation that Newman embraced. The progressive nature of San Francisco, with artist-run exhibition spaces and progressive art schools, meant that there was a growing interest in dance, Happenings and film-related art. One of the big moments in this show is a rare 1958 expressive abstract painting by Robert Morris just as his choreographer wife, Simone Forti had interested him in dance and movement. Soon after, they moved to New York, where those interests evolved as key components of his Minimalist art of the '60s. Robert Morris. Untitled, 1959. Oil on canvas. 71 x 71 in. 180.3 x 180.3 cm The interest in abstract expressionist painting that dominated the Bay Area can be seen in powerful pieces by Hassel Smith and Frank Lobdell. It can also be seen in the early work of L.A.- based artists like Ed Moses and Craig Kauffman. All showed at Ferus so the show proves the regular migration of artists and the constant recycling of ideas between the two cities. Joe Goode. Bo, 1962. Oil on canvas with painted milk bottle. 67 x 67 in. 170.2 x 170.2 cm. On loan from the collection of Dallas Price and Bob Van Breda The Landing show also includes a major 1963 Milk Bottle painting by Joe Goode, who had his first solo show at the Dilexi in L.A. But Newman's enduring legacy turned out to be his support of music, film and performance. After closing Dilexi in 1969, he funded 35 Happenings and produced films of work by Terry Riley, Sun Ra and Walter De Maria which were shown on KQED in San Francisco in the years before such work could be seen in any sort of public way. Many of these programs and some live performances will be held at The Landing over the course of the show, which continues to August 10. At Parker Gallery, which is located in a series of rooms on the ground floor of a large Tudor style h ouse in Los Feliz, the selection of 14 works is titled Seeking The Unknown. On a pedestal near the front door stands an exceptional tablet-shaped sculpture by the mystic artist Jess, which remains in Newman's own collection. Jess. Variations on Durer's Melcancholia I, 1960. Collage on paper, Art Nouveau frame, mixed media. 38 x 24 x 20 inches. Collection Jim Newman and Jane Ivory This work of collaged panels of black and white illustrations is set within a voluptuous bronze-colored frame. Peach-colored velvet on the reverse is set with silver sequins that state the title: Variations on Durer's Melancholia (1960). An icon of the Bay Area scene, Jess was known for his "paste- ups," collages of carefully cut-out bits of illustrations and photographs. Along with his partner, poet Robert Duncan, he pursued research on arcane theories from the distant and recent past. A fascination with arcane and ancient spiritual beliefs was embraced by poets, artists and musicians of the Bay Area. The very name of Dilexi was taken from the Latin, "to select, to value highly, to love." The show at Parker includes a 1965 Verifax collage by Wallace Berman, whose inaugural show at Ferus was shut down as erotic by the LAPD, which prompted his move to Northern California. Eccentricity was in large supply especially in the paintings of Roy De Forest, who had the most shows at Dilexi. One of his early constructions Napoleon on St. Helena (1961) is a collection of molded and painted organic shapes mounted on a rectangle of painted white wood. The show continues through August 10. Another aspect of Dilexi is called Totems and Phenomenology at Parrasch Heijnin downtown, opening Saturday, June 22. Tony DeLap, Modern Times, 1966, wood, fiberglass, and lacquer, 39 x 67-1/2 x 39 inches. Image courtesy of Parrasch Heijnen Gallery With work by five artists, it highlights the interest in perception that activated the work of Tony DeLap and Charles Ross. These artists were interested in ideas about mindfulness and seeing and spiritual presence. The show continues to Aug. 10. Jay DeFeo. Untitled (Berkeley), 1953. tempera and acrylic with paper collage on rag board. 22 1/8 x 28 inches 29 7/8 x 35 7/8 x 2 inches, framed. "Berkeley '53" on verso in pencil in artist's hand A key figure of LA and San Francisco art of the 1960s was Jay De Feo. A show of her work will open on July 13 at Marc Selwyn Fine Art. Meanwhile, Dilexi Gallery: The Early Years is at Brian Gross Fine Art in San Francisco through July 27. Also in San Francisco, Crown Point Press is featuring Fred Martin's 1967 publication Beulah Land. Taken together, these exhibitions complicate and fulfill a history that is still being written. All the galleries deserve credit for starting to fill in those large gaps in the story.

Celebrating the Anniversaries of Bauhaus and Rembrandt

One of the most influential art schools of the last century – Bauhaus – was founded 100 years ago in Weimar, Germany. The Getty Research Institute marks this 100 th anniversary with a new exhibition, Bauhaus Beginnings, which pulls from its archives prints, drawings, photographs, and other material. In spite of the devastation of WWI from 1914-1918, the following year, in 1919, a group of avant-garde European artists developed a bold vision of a school of design and a model of education that would bridge the fine and applied arts. Installation shot: Bauhaus Beginnings. Getty Research Institute. Photo by Edward Goldman. The Getty's exhibition emphasizes the contributions made by Bauhaus founder German artist Walter Gropius (1883-1969), Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy (1895- 1946), Russian artist Vassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), and Swiss artist Paul Klee (1879- 1940), just to mention a few of the teachers. The overall design of the exhibition, with particularly elegant floating geometric display cabinets, has an echo of the Bauhaus aesthetic. Installation shot: Bauhaus Beginnings. Getty Research Institute. Studies for Vassily Kandinsky's Farbenlehre (Course on color), 1929-1930. Colored paper and gouache on paper. Erich Mrozek. Photo by Edward Goldman. One quote from the exhibition by Kandinsky emphasizes the spiritual and emotional significance of art: "Every work of art is the child of its age and, in many cases, the mother of our emotions." Installation shots: Bauhaus Beginnings. Getty Research Institute. L: Selection from the portfolio Das Wielandslied der älteren Edda (The Wieland song of the elder Edda), 1923. Woodcut. Gerhard Marcks. R: Figure Study, 1929-1931. Watercolor, graphite, and ink on paper. Erich Mrozek. Photos by Edward Goldman. Here, in Southern California, two major American art schools – CalArts and ArtCenter College of Design – are philosophical descendants of Bauhaus, uniting the practices of architecture and design alongside the fine arts. L: Rembrandt Laughing, about 1628. Oil on copper, 8 ¾ in. x 6 ¾ in. (22.2 x 17.1 cm). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2013.60. R: Self-Portrait (detail), about 1636–38. Oil on panel, 24 7/8 x 19 7/8 in. (63.2 x 50.5 cm). The Norton Simon Foundation, Pasadena, F.1969.18.P. Images courtesy Rembrandt in Southern California. Another anniversary – 350 years since the death of Rembrandt – is honored by 5 Southern California museums with a virtual exhibition of 14 of his paintings held by The Getty, LACMA, Norton Simon Museum, The Hammer, and Timken Museum of Art. Just imagine the pleasure of paying homage to Rembrandt with a short trip from The Getty to Norton Simon to see his self-portraits when he was only 22 and then 30 years old. The Abduction of Europa, 1632. Oil on panel, 25 7/16 x 31 in. (64.6 x 78.7 cm). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 95.PB.7. Image courtesy Rembrandt in Southern California. One of his earlier paintings held by The Getty, The Rape of Europa, shows the Greek god Zeus, in the form of a bull, abducting Europa, whose face has a striking resemblance to Rembrandt's wife, Saskia. L: Portrait of Marten Looten, 1632. Oil on panel, 36 1/2 x 30 in. (92.71 x 76.2 cm). Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Gift of J. Paul Getty, 53.50.3. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA. R: Saint Bartholomew, 1661. Oil on canvas, 34 1/8 x 29 3/4 in. (86.7 x 75.6 cm). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 71.PA.15. Images courtesy Rembrandt in Southern California. During his lifetime, Rembrandt experienced and enjoyed not only fame and fortune, but also having been ignored and forgotten. His early style, with careful brushstrokes and complimentary portrayal of well-to-do clients, reflected the taste of wealthy Dutch merchants. But, toward the end of his career, his art dramatically changed. The smooth surface of his early paintings transformed into wild, distinct brushwork. His cool palette became much more muddy and earthy. And, complimentary presentation gave way to a deeper, psychological exploration of character. Rembrandt paid a dear price for these profound changes in his art. He was no longer considered a desirable artist for commissions, and so he sank into poverty, lost his house, moved into the poorest neighborhood in Amsterdam, and was buried in an unmarked grave. 350 years later, he is celebrated as one of the greatest artists of all time. Wouldn't it be remarkable if all five Southern California museums worked together to pay homage to Rembrandt not only through a virtual exhibition, but by exhibiting all 14 paintings in one real exhibition? Of course, the logistics of such an exhibition would be overwhelming. But, the magic of Rembrandt's art is worth it...

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